Our Fraternal Life
The Rule of Saint Benedict puts the importance of the quality of fraternal relationships: “They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other, supporting with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body or actions, and earnestly competing in obedience to one another. No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else. To their fellow monks they show the “pure love of brothers” (CH. 72).
In accordance with St. Benedict’s Rule, we strive to express fraternal charity in our life. This is achieved by a multitude of small attentions, such as being careful to walk at the same pace as our neighbor in processions or preparing a small bouquet of flowers to be placed in the Chapel on the Altar or in side Altars. Small hallway shrines or in the refectory place sitting of a monk celebrating his feast day.
But we also know that fraternal life is a challenge. Instead of being a mirror reflecting God for our fellow monks, we are sometimes an obstruction conveying nothing, but ourselves. We are not saints, but rather sinners striving for conversion with God’s help and the light of the Gospel. For this reason, St. Benedict states that the whole of the Lord’s Prayer should be recited aloud at Lauds and end of day Vespers: “Because thorns of contention are likely to spring up. Thus warned by the pledge they make to one another in the words of this prayer: ‘Forgive us as we forgive’, they may cleanse themselves of this kind of vice” (CH. 13 Rule of St. Benedict).
Our fraternal life is not without its difficulties. But it is certainly one of the greatest consolations in our life. By walking together in our calling we can become one as the latin term says” cor unum meaum et cor unum. “Of one heart and of one soul”.